As an obedient orphan of
the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and
Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having
your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna
can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all
sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity
for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where
all would-be criminals end up.
The life expectancy of prisoners
on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic
conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with
civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of
their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a
potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible,
but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.
1) How and why have you started to
write? Were there something or someone that gave you an impulse?
I've always loved writing, ever since I
was really young. I used to carry a book around with me as a toy, even before I
could read! And I work as a librarian in Los Angeles. I think the impulse
probably came from my parents, who read a lot of books. Growing up there were
always tons of books around our house! My husband Alex McAulay is also a
writer, who has written four young adult novels for Pocket Books, including Bad
Girls and Oblivion Road.
2) Tell me something about you and your
book The Forsaken.
The Forsaken is about a sixteen year
old girl named Alenna Shawcross, living in a dystopian future in which The
United States, Canada, and Mexico have merged for economic reasons (against the
wishes of the citizens). The government has developed a test called the GPPT
which claims to diagnose hidden violent and subversive tendencies in teenagers.
Alenna fails the test, even though she has never done anything wrong in her
entire life, and is banished to a brutal prison island called "the
wheel." There, she has to choose a tribe, make friends, forge alliances,
and fight the government machines controlling the island. Ultimately, she and
some friends embark on a dangerous escape attempt from the island, and not
3) While you're writing, have you
discovered a character that you where developing feelings of love for? And was
there a character that gave you headaches?
I tend to love all my characters, even
the villains! ;) I think my favorite characters are the main ones: Alenna, her
boyfriend Liam, her best friend Gadya, and her other friend/potential future
love interest David. Probably the hardest character to write was "The
Monk" (the villain) because he is hidden behind a mask for a lot of the
book, and I had to keep his true identity a secret.
4) How have you done your research for
I mainly researched prison systems and
tropical islands. "The wheel" is basically a nightmare version of a
prison island. In my research, I found all kinds of terrifying prisons, from
giant ones that existed in the 1800's, to ones that exist in present day
America (the scary SuperMax ones for violent offenders). So most of my
research was about prisons and islands, just to get the details right.
5) Is there a book that inspired your
There have been tons of book that
really inspired me along the way. Probably the ones I drew the most inspiration
from were Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and The Maze Runner. But I'm
also a fan of classic dystopian novels like 1984 and Brave New World, so I was
inspired by them as well. Margaret Atwood is also a big inspiration--her novel
The Handmaid's Tale is fantastic.
6) In the end, would you like say some
words to your fans from Romania?
everyone! :) I hope you enjoy The Forsaken! I've never been to Romania, but
maybe one day I will get to go there and meet some of you in person. Say hi to
me anytime on twitter (@LisaMStasse)!